The Buffalo Bills enter the 2021 offseason with a lot of money tied up on their defensive line and not much to show for it in 2020. Could we see another season with a lot of money spent at the defensive tackle spot? Let’s take a look.
We looked at every angle of the Bills’ defensive tackle position on Monday and Tuesday and now it’s your turn to vote! Read the excerpts and for a full look at each article, click the link.
I think Quinton Jefferson is pretty good. I do wish he was more consistently making impact plays. I do wonder how much the lack of a full offseason hurt the Bills when it came to the defense generally speaking and in Jefferson’s case specifically. There was definitely a concerted effort to reshape the offense and that means less time/attention for the defense.
I bring up that last point because, if you’re deciding next year’s roster, the Bills started playing better defensive football toward the end of the season. That suggests the personnel might be less of an issue than suspected and you’d look to keep core players around. Since I’m supposed to be giving my opinion, I do like a lot of what Quinton Jefferson brings to the table. Add a pass rusher opposite Hughes who scares the opponent and I bet Jefferson would fit in just fine.
Overall I’m betting I like Vernon Butler way more than most analysts. I am however unsure how the Buffalo Bills can best take advantage of his skillset. I came away from Vernon Butler film night thinking that his tool kit is far better suited to defensive end than tackle (hence my final play selection). His best attributes are agility, speed, and more finesse-based skills. He struggled to collapse the middle of the pocket, but did hold his ground relatively well on double teams. As such, to me Vernon Butler is a bit of an enigma.
Due $4.5 million in salary in 2021 plus up to $750,000 in per-game active bonuses during the season, the Bills could shave $6.5 million in total cap space and actual cash off their roster by releasing Jefferson in the next 12 days.
Butler can earn $100,000 in workout bonuses this offseason and $250,000 in per-game active bonuses on top of his $5.5 million salary in 2021. By releasing Butler before that roster bonus is paid, they’ll be saving more than $6.8 million in actual cash and cap space, with only his $1 million pro-rated portion of signing bonus already paid but still left on the books.
Tomlinson, 27, is a four-year starter with eight career sacks, 21 tackles-for-loss (TFLs), and an average of 52 tackles per season. The 6’3” 320-lb defender sets up a concrete barrier at the line of scrimmage, and he’s accustomed to playing roughly 60 percent of snaps in a game.
Casey’s been a remarkably consistent tackle who could play anywhere from zero to four or five technique. From 2014 to 2019, he averaged six sacks, nine TFLs, 14 QB hits, and 34 tackles per year. Was 2020 a fluke or the start of a sudden downturn?
Admit it: When you heard that the Carolina Panthers were releasing Short, you expected the Bills to have signed him within a day or two. A couple years ago, that would have been a no-brainer, but 2019 and 2020 haven’t been kind to him. He’s only played in five combined games in those two years, with shoulder surgery being the season-ender each time.
Now 34-years old, Suh is still a starting-caliber defensive tackle. He had six sacks, nine tackles for loss, and 19 QB hits for the Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020. Suh brings power, attitude, and a rough edge to any team he joins. That has plusses and minuses.
Hankins, an eight-year veteran who’s been a starting defensive tackle for seven years, is another outstanding run defender on the interior of the line. He’s 6’3” 340 lbs of muscle mass, and turns 29 this year. That said, he’s mainly a gap-clogger with limited pass rushing upside. From the last two years, he had 2.5 sacks, eight TFLs, and ten QB hits.
Former first-round pick Rankins looked to be on his way to stardom when he had eight sacks, 40 tackles, and 12 TFLs in 2018. But he’s been battling injuries in the last two years. An ankle injury, then a knee injury the next year, basically cut his snap count in half compared to his early career. From 2019 to 2020, he only had 3.5 sacks and 30 tackles—total.
Jones is a hard-working 6’4” 320-lb nose tackle who’s spent his whole career with the Tennessee Titans. He’s not a dynamic pass rusher, with only nine sacks in his seven years as a pro. But he’s an effective run stopper and an unselfish part of the defense—something that would fit right in with the Bills.
“Snacks” is one of the best nose tackles of the past decade, but he’s now 32-years old, and last season was a bit of a downturn. Harrison only appeared in seven games, with nine total tackles. He played for the veteran minimum last year, so he’d probably be a low-cost option if the Bills wanted him.
Daviyon Nixon (Iowa)
Jay Tufele (USC)
Tyler Shelvin (LSU)
Marlon Tuipulotu (USC)
Marvin Wilson (Florida State)
Tedarrell Slaton (Florida)
Even if the Bills cut Vernon Butler and Quinton Jefferson, they’ll have a solid, NFL-caliber four-player rotation at DT this fall. Add a young guy at 1-tech to rotate in, and with Phillips and Lotulelei scheduled to enter free agency a year from now, and you could be set.
Now it’s your turn to vote! What should the Bills do at defensive tackle this offseason?
What should the Bills do at DT this offseason?
This poll is closed
Cut Butler OR Jefferson, keep everyone else.
Cut Butler AND Jefferson, keep everyone else
Cut Butler AND Jefferson, add a free agent
Cut Butler AND Jefferson, add a draft pick